Hottest but greatest month of the whole dern summer!
Yes, the grain is tall and bright yellow in August—blowin’ in a hot wind that literally makes it ripple across miles and miles of rolling fields. Out where a narrow, two-lane highway cuts straight as a dye through the middle of those acres with caterpillar-like humps going up and down, up and down, you can see forever. That was the terrain we viewed for hours on the trip to grandma and grandpa’s small dairy farm near Spokane, Washington. If any of you folks live in wheat country, you know just what I mean. And grasshoppers! Yep, you know all about those monster-lookin’, tobacco spittin’ varmints too. Some (especially prissy girls—which I was not) are afraid of ‘em, but my brothers and I thought they were a wonderment to God’s creations. We loved catching them in our dirt-soiled hands, and examining them up close. They’d leave a little juice in our palm before we’d cheerfully through them high in the air to spread their wings and soar.
August was a welcomed month though we were sunburned by then to the point we had constant bubbly, dry skin on our noses and shoulders—no sunscreen had been invented back then, so consequently, we all have to be checked closely now in our later years for skin cancers that erupt often from those early days of frying our young skin in the baking sun day after scorching day. When the temp’ got so hot we’d need to escape, my brothers and I would sit under our big ol’ Chinese Elm trees in the front yard, drinking cold water or kool-aid while we peeled long strips of parched, dead skin from each other’s backs. We were all prone to gobs and gobs of freckles too, and all my early pictures show me looking like a speckled egg, but I never minded being called freckle-face.
We ran the fields with nothing on but our swimsuits, and maybe a pair of shorts pulled over them until we got near the irrigation ditch and could strip down to the suit only, then dive in with the water snakes to cool off. We were always on the run but got whatever chores done too we were assigned according to our age and abilities.
And what country-kid didn’t catch honey-bees in one of their mom’s fruit jars just for the fun of it? We had lots of clover in the lawn Dad planted in front and back of the house, and since we ran barefoot all summer, those bees stung our feet often when we’d dash across the yard. Sometimes to get even, we’d pour water from an outdoor spicket into a jar full of those captured stingers, and drown ‘em, then, we’d feel bad, and decide to hold a funeral for them out in the pasture. We’d bury ‘em deep, and add a little wooden cross held together with bailing twine we could always find in the barn. We also would say a few parting words over the burial site for God to take them to Heaven, and clear our guilty conscience.
On hot, starry nights when the coolest it might get before dawn would be 80 degrees, the house would be too stifling hot to sleep, so we kids would gather up our blankets to spread on the lawn under the trees outside where a breeze just might rustle the leaves enough for us to finally cool down, and drop off to sleep. We’d put no covers over us—just lay stretched out in light-weight summer pajamas. No air-conditioned farm houses in those days, (few homes in the city had it either) so you just gritted your teeth, and invented ways to stay cool, and rest peacefully. It makes me smile when I think how we slept like babies right out in the open on our front lawn with no fears of anyone snatching us from our resting place in the night, or fancy sleeping bags, tents, and other gear folks think they can’t do without on a night of sleeping outdoors. Most of these so called campers have never closed their eyes with the Big-Dipper shining down on them, or the many other constellations above because they have a dern tent overhead they think shelters them from harm or a rain drop or two. My brothers and I gazed at millions of stars straight above us on those nights that seemed nothing outta the ordinary, but now are so memorable.
Well, I’ve blabbed enough for one column, so you all finish out this summer havin’ all the great fun you can stuff into it, and take lots of pictures. They’ll make the best memories later…
Here’s a poem I scribbled down to suit the subject!
The crickets are noisy as I lay down my head,
But I won’t get much rest in this hot, humid bed.
Today’s sun beat down on meadow and field,
But I dare not neglect this grain crop soon to yield.
My horse-team worked hard to finish it all,
And I thought a few times they might flounder and fall,
But we sweated it out ‘til noon’s dinner bell,
And I knew we must finish ‘cause ya never can tell
When rain clouds might gather, and have a cloud burst,
Ruin the grain, tho’ it might quench my thirst.
Ma brought out some lunch, and we sat in the shade
Wolfin’ down sandwiches she had fresh made.
A slight breeze swept thru’ as we sat ‘neath that tree
Watching grasshoppers fly high, and soar free.
And I saw God’s creations in life all around
Just sittin’ there restin’ on that dusty ground,
And tho’ it was hot, and not fit for mankind
On this August day bustin’ my poor behind,
I got down on my knees, no I didn’t forget
Tho’ still hot and sticky, covered with sweat,
And I thanked the dear Lord for His grace, and His love,
Knowin’ He sees me from His place up above.
Yep, some months ol’ Sol makes life really hot,
But I know who to thank for the blessin’s I got.